NEWINGTON >> Ninety feet was the difference between a win and a loss for the Newington baseball team Wednesday.
East Catholic, behind a strong pitching performance and timely hitting defeated Newington at Alumni Field, 2-1 on Opening Day for Connecticut high school baseball.
Trailing by a run in the bottom of the seventh, Newington pinch-hitter Brett Frank drew a walk to lead off. The sophomore was sacrificed to second on a bunt by Joe Almeida and then advanced to third on a ground out to the shortstop by Max Ermini.
Another ground out to the shortstop ended the game.
“We lost that game by 90 feet. We lost that game by one pitch. By one swing,” Newington coach Ben Alaimo said. “That swing could happen anytime and we focus on the last one, because that’s when the game ends.”
Newington pitcher Marcus Guadarrama allowed just two base-runners through the first three innings before third baseman Clay Felice singled to begin the top of the fourth and then stole second. After a strikeout by Logan Greene, Tyler Gammie singled, moving Felice to third.
Nick Casasanta, a transfer from Newington to East Catholic, flew out to right, but it was deep enough to score the runner from third.
East Catholic may not have put a large number on the board today, but it was just enough.
“We struggled to score runs last year,” East Catholic coach Martin Fiori said. “We basically have the same squad back.”
Felice was back at it again in the sixth.
Again he singled to lead off the inning for East Catholic. Two batters later, Gammie was hit by a pitch to put runner on first and second with one out. Casasanta grounded into a fielder’s choice, moving Felice to third with two down.
Josh Zbierski lined a single to center scoring Felice, he took second on the throw to third.
“We had some hard hits that were outs, but we got the hits when we needed them,” Fiori said.
Newington scored its only run of the game in the sixth when Ben Maycock tripled with two out to deep left center. Pat Donahue followed with a double, but was left stranded on second.
“I think we left a few runners on base today and we let them off the hook a few times,” Alaimo said. “Key hit here, key hit there, but there’s no excuses. I think they’re pitcher did a good job, got to give them all the credit, they won the game and I think we’ll come back better tomorrow.”
Greene went all seven innings for the Eagles. He allowed five hits, struck out three and walked three to pick up his first win of the season.
“Eighty-two pitches and kind of had him on a pitch count for 85,” Fiori said. “He basically got us through that. So what more can you ask?”
Guadarrama was equally impressive for Newington. The senior finished the complete game striking out seven and walked one. He allowed just five hits in the loss.
East Catholic didn’t have many opportunities to practice outside before today’s opener, so Fiori was just happy they were able to get on a field.
“It’s been tough just because we’ve been inside and pretty much we’ve been joking around that we can beat anyone inside,” Fiori said. “We made the plays in the field, that was our biggest thing, wondering if we could make plays on a grass field because we haven’t been able to take a lot of ground balls on a groomed field and the field here was great.”
East Catholic travels to Weaver on Friday for a 3:45 p.m. start and Newington will host Maloney on Saturday at 1 p.m.